One of the common grumbles I hear from people who want to get on in the music industry is that it’s far too difficult. This is made difficult by (delete as appropriate) promoters, venues, tribute bands, TV talent shows, PR companies, journalists and record labels (the list could be longer) who all play their part in denying opportunities that should be offered with more fairness. ‘Fairness’ can mean many different things to the many different people who grumble but, when boiled down, it often means that they want the opportunity themselves.
It’s not an argument I’m entirely unsympathetic about. I’m sure we’ve all heard about bands who’ve been ripped off by rogues; acts that might have been the next ‘Coldplay’ (please, no!!) or ‘U2’ (God forbid!!) if it wasn’t for the fact that their drummer didn’t look the part. I’d love to see a world where talent trumps all but we’re a way from that now.
I’m drawn to the productive collective of ‘Go Rogue’ Records. Here, we have a group of people, based out of New York, who have decided to do something. ‘Go Rogue’ has been running for less than a year and yet is already preparing to release their fourth album, in early February. ‘Devil’s Road’ is conceived as a collection of gritty, folk-infused rock with an apocalyptic vibe.
Lilah from the label told me that, “as always, the album is a collective labor by a number of artists on our roster. As a nascent independent label in these dark days of the record industry, we’re doing our best to come up with new models for success, and for now that means releasing collaborative albums in which the creative outpouring, time commitment, and promotion is manageably shared amongst our artists. This way there isn’t too much pressure on any one emerging artist—our artists happily share responsibilities.”
Each album that’s been released to date by ‘Go Rogue’ has had a loose, generic theme. They can all be streamed, for free, on the website which can be found here. Regular readers of ‘Sonic Breakfast’ will surely not be surprised that it’s ‘Young Blood’, a collection of youthful electro-pop, that I’m returning to most.
There’s a dozen or so artists that seem to constitute ‘Go Rogue’ at the moment. I was first drawn towards A.F. Paxton, a Glaswegian living in New York. It’s hard not to fall for the electro-pop charms of his tune, ‘Our Way’. This acts as our invite into some of the other ‘Go Rogue’ acts; Goldishack’s analog collaborations with soulful vocalists harking back to a time when Motown ruled the roost; the out of the box thinking of Tyler Ewing from Nashville’s Pinewood Social Club that makes them so difficult to pigeonhole.
Indeed, this is one of the many charms of ‘Go Rogue’. As new releases are issued, we see the artists heading in new directions and revealing new angles to their sounds. It feels like this ‘collaborative album’ model is providing the freedom to experiment and develop fairly.
I am in no way saying that ‘Go Rogue’ exists to raise awareness for the plight of unfortunate drummers but it does seem to be adding some collective fairness back into this world that we all love… And, for that I salute them…